Builder confidence dropped a point to 75 in January, according to the latest NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released Thursday. Still, the last two monthly readings mark the highest sentiment levels since July 1999.
“Low interest rates and a healthy labor market combined with a need for additional inventory are setting the stage for further home building gains in 2020,” said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde.
“With the Federal Reserve on pause and attractive mortgage rates, the steady rise in single-family construction that began last spring will continue into 2020,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “However, builders continue to grapple with a shortage of lots and labor, while buyers are frustrated by a lack of inventory, particularly among starter homes.”
The HMI index charting traffic of prospective buyers increased one point to 58, the highest level since December 2017. The gauge measuring current sales conditions fell three points to 81, and the component measuring sales expectations in the next six months held steady at 79.
Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast rose one point to 62, the Midwest increased three points to 66, and the West moved one point higher to 84. The South remained unchanged at 76.